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tv   Why  CSPAN  February 4, 2017 8:00am-9:26am EST

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twitter handle politics. thanks so much. >> you can watch the senate debate on the betsy devos nomination along with tuesday's confirmation vote live on c-span2. ..
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they weigh in on the u.s. drone program. to talk with local authors and in visit the city's literary sites. as just a few of the programs you will see on book tv on c-span two this weekend. for complete television schedule book television for serious readers. first up here is peter hayes discussing his book why explaining the call cost. -- holocaust. good evening and welcome i'm wendy lower director of the museum's advanced holocaust studies.
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to tonight's program. why did the holocaust happen. like to welcome the digital audience joining us from around the globe. with the hashtag u.s. hh why. what happened and how it was possible and where the most advanced civilized regions of the world. if you were to look at continental europe and specifically germany before hitler came to power unified democracy. your fine democracy. struggling once. you'd also find growing anxiety and fear as a result of the great war the economic depression and the rise of a communism and you would find increasing anti-semitism which is a convenient explanation for every problem in crisis
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you would find where the most highly educated nations of the world. 25 percent of the leadership have a phd or an advanced degree. you'd find a country with a dynamic free press. the holocaust reminds us of the human rights that the unthinkable is always thinkable in the in all societies human beings are susceptible to treating the other as inferior. the tendency to justify any behavior. and to remind us with both confidence that memory has a capacity to transform that the lessons of the holocaust have the capacity to inspire by each of us has the ability and responsibility to act.
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what you do what we do what we've done and will achieve together matters. this evening's program is the first in the new programming series this year called the power of memory to shape our future. it explores the power of our collective understanding of the holocaust and how we can use it to create a better world. please sign up for our e-mails and follow us on social media tonight we are joined by peter hayes professor in the towel holocaust studies at northwestern university. the author of more than 80 articles and 12 books in several landmark studies. including books hayes has been funded by the american council of society and in 1997 and 98
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it was awarded the senior scholarship. senior in stature not age. in the new book why explaining the holocaust he dispels many misconceptions and answers some of the most basic and vexing questions that remain. why did the jews and not another ethnic group. what it more jews fight back more often. why did they not receive more help. responding to the questions he's been asked by students over the decade. he rings a wealth of scholarly experience. challenging some of the recent interpretations. he argues there is no single theory that explains the holocaust the convergence of
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multiple forces at a particular moment in time lead to their catastrophe. tonight peter will share the main parts of the book with us and offer us a behind-the-scenes look detailing why he wrote his new book and white it took the form that it did. and it's not my great pleasure to watch -- to welcome peter hayes to the stage. good evening. thank you all for coming. on a rainy night in a busy week. take your about a book that you can get delivered in a brown paper wrapper to your front door. most historian books explains as it were from the have of zeus. they usually are of full-blown idea that a person has about seeing something in the new way. the author gets an idea what
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we call a thesis and goes out to try to find evidence that supports it sometimes evidence that refutes it but more often we tend to follow the path that we have in mind. and then to write an account that vindicates it. this book that i had written is very different in the way it began. in the late 1980s i began to teach a course on the history of the holocaust. i've been check chick trained as a german history and his research did not center on it. i set out to teach a course that i have to learn a great deal about. as i learned about that course about that subject and begin teaching it and as i began giving public lectures about it i discovered most people who came to my talks like most of the students who enrolled in the class and the very same questions about the subject.
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they brought to a certain issues it certain issues that they wanted explained. on this actually insight to tailed with a without practical consideration. when i started this course and for the whole 36 years of my academic career i taught at the same institution. when the upper something called the quarter system. for those of you who are not familiar with it is a barbarity inflicted on the students of a small number of the leading universities. as a racket for the teachers who teach on it. because it divides the academic year into teaching units of ten weeks. and as a will endowed in the institution you have to you can do the math.
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you are in front of students 18 weeks a year. no wonder higher education gets criticized in this country. i found that i faced a problem. i do teach the history of the holocaust and nine weeks. how could i possibly compress this material in a sensible fashion into that frame of time. i realized that the people who were coming to the class and coming to my lectures with the same questions were giving me the answer. were telling me how to do it. and now my phone is telling me that i should have shut it off before i came up. i did not want as i began to think about writing this book to distill the lessons that i have learned in from the experience of trying to answer them. until book that would make sense to people. i did not want to write another narrative history of
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the holocaust. we've a great many excellent ones. if you want one that consists of only 100 to 110 pages read the one by david engle. the history of the holocaust is a little longer than that. and has won a wide audience. if you want the firm narrative of the history of the holocaust from beginning to end from top to bottom no one well ever do better than the two volumes. what i wanted to do was to bring some clarity to the subject. to distill the insights of scholars over the last 30 years of enormously productive work and bring these insights into a service of the practical answers to the questions that people ask. i had two additional purposes. i wanted to close the gap which has become a very wide between what the general public thinks it knows about the holocaust and what
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scholars think they know about the holocaust. i wanted to set the record straight i was haunted by an observation by tony judd a historian recently deceased who quite likely wrote that impossible to describe as it really was. the holocaust is vulnerable to being remembered as it wasn't. and the result of that fact is a great deal of distortion about how and why it happened. and the more i studied the subject the more misconception conceptions i encountered in the more i thought that this or a book i have in mind as needed. now she summarized for you summarize for you the eight questions that propel the book it has eight chapters each of which is devoted to answering one of those questions.
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and obviously i can't take you through all of those to the i know it comes as a source of release to you at this hour. they questions will done essentially to two that i want to vote my attention to tonight. the first is why were where the jews killed. in the second is why didn't or couldn't anyone prevent this. i want to try to devote the time i have tonight to giving you a sketch of the way i've tried to enter these questions. i should alert you in advance the fact that i'm a very old school guy. i'm 70 years old. i was born in 1946. i still remember radio. i don't normally use visual aids. the holocaust memorial museum has dragged me into the 21st century and i well in the
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course of this presentation put some images up to give you an illustration of what i'm thinking about and what i'm talking about. some of these images relate to the book. and relate to arguments in the book. others will read their to give you a sense of the vivid mess and the reality of what i'm talking about at the time. if you start with the long-term roots the answer to why they were killed one cannot avoid the long tradition in the western world of treating them as contaminating. it's a tradition that runs through the last 2000 years. the first source of contamination was of course to the faith of christians it explains why they have to be kept at a distance they would corrupt the belief system of
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christians. by the late 18th century as religious ideas began to fade in their predominance in the west. enlightened thinkers presented them as the embodiments of threats to progress. people who clothed and and the repetition of old-fashioned ways in a way that violated the vision of a future emancipation of human beings. and then after that emancipation actually extended to jews in the 19th century they have the opportunity to enter into all ranks of society new forms of preventing them as contaminating arose. they were physically threatening. that they were in the sense undermined the health of the people. i argue in the book that this is a tradition that presented
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them as benighted backward, and bacterial. overtime each new argument as to why they were bad did not crowd out entirely the old ones but it provided new arguments to new sorts of people. the irony of the tradition of anti-semitism i anti- semitism i want to make two points to you. all of it is not like. modern is different from what came before. it's a movement that says they are political and moral threat that must be combated politically. and in the ironing of this as this is an attitude towards jews that flourished and was vocal and was widespread in the 19th century in europe and was almost entirely a political failure. in the months leading up to world war i almost no one in germany would've suspected that this movement was going to become a powerful force after the conflict. they have run repeatedly in
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german elections. they have never gotten more than 4% of the vote or 5% of the seats. as a political movement. the notion that they were the source of all misfortunes did not had widespread traction. the important question as to whom it did have traction. modern anti-semitism is the creation of industrial revolution and the audience for it was expanded by the bolshevik revolution. the people who listened to the argument that they were the source of all trouble and society were often people who were the losers by future. and they were people terrified of the potential political effects. with which they linked jews. in other words the audience for them at the end of the 19th beginning of the 20th century was not unlike the audience for a popular nationalist in the world
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today. at the dawn of the 21st. not the victims of the industrial revolution anymore or the people panicked. but the victims of the digital revolution. and the people in it by panicked by the threat of terrorism. the rise of anti-semitism however was enabled not by the power of these ideas alone but by the enormous crisis that was set up by world war i. germany would never had been the country in which this was centered if the defeat of the nation in 1918 have not set off a general sense of victimization by events. but also by political defeat. this is a the context that created the opening and even then he almost did not succeed. when he came to power in
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january 193355 percent of the germans have never voted for him. he have received and wanted to use him because they received more votes than anyone else. but never a majority of the votes. this is an important point to make because when we try to explain why germany became the place where the holocaust was perpetrated. it's much more important than the events that preceded. the long tradition it did not matter politically until the minority of the people who believed in it acquired
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political power. power magnifies the ideas of those who hold it. and when people who hold beliefs that are regarded by the general society is not quite acceptable become enormously powerful their beliefs become more acceptable. a famous historian in nazi germany once said more people became anti- semites in germany because they became national socialist. that became national socialist because they were anti-semites. this is another way of formulating what i just said. power magnifies the ideas of those who hold it. in realms that are important to some segments of the population those segments will
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come to think that those other ideas might be more persuasive than they thought at first glance. as it appeared to many germans to do. then perhaps the nazis were not so bad after all. and perhaps what they say about the jews is not so errant as we thought. add this to a society that was thoroughly capable of creating an echo chamber and ideological world in which only its ideas were presented to the public. and in which one could not challenge those ideas without fear of punishment. you create a situation that transforms a nation in 1933 from one in which 55 percent of the germans have never voted for hitler to one it's everything that hitler wants him to do.
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is ready to cooperate in every measure of persecution none of which arise with significant public opposition in the populist. this was what the nazis did. they created a chamber in which only we matter and this is where the first visual aids come in. these are two illustrations of nazi propaganda about the jews. poisonous mushroom. and this is a presentation to children of what they embody collectively. no difference among them. they never spoke there. because all are alike. the collective is what matters. with the traditional christian anti-semitism.
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when you look at the crude all life is struggled. this is the sick in into the week in nature. the way in which defective trees are cut down and so forth. for the nazis the lessons imparted to all germans. relentlessly it is a struggle between us and them. they are malevolent. they are out to harm us. it must be because all life has struggled. we must contest with them. we must remove them. the next illustration results with the positive vision is.
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it will be created by the new estate. the way in which politics will be acted out on people's bodies. that's enough of that. in the 1930s what the germans preached was jews and all others who were defective or deficient head to be removed. the verb they used was always in german and fair to remove. in 1938 they realized that this was no longer adequate. they did a little math. one of the things that they did. those two moves brought almost as many jews into germany as
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they have succeeded in driving out in the preceding five years. the next target was the protector which brought in another 50,000 jews. it might sound as if it was not terribly significant but the next slide points to one of the most famous events in the history of the persecution of the jews. the event in which it went over to open violence on a mass scale. there had been individual of violence before. this was the moment at which the regime went over to overt violets.
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smashing homes and shops. behind-the-scenes something much more fateful happens. and that has the germans began speaking a new vocabulary. and found them no longer with the decisive word. they went to paris to attend a funeral of the man who was assassinated in early november that triggered it. and he sat down with his colleague. the swiss ambassador to paris. they're going sooner than later. is the first recorded use of that word by a senior german official and it occurs a few days after. late in the month i think says
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if they don't leave the country they cannot expect the germans will suffer their presence any further. well had to take them out with fire and sword they will be completely annihilated. they proclaim. not in the event of a new world were that will not mean the destruction of the german people in europe that will mean their complete annihilation. for five years up until 1938. that vocabulary was to expel jews from germany. but once the leaders realize that every foreign policy gain they made met more within the country their projection was too advanced to the east.
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next was poland. living space was to be found in the east next was russia. the old pale of settlement of the russian empire. this was the location of more than half of the jews of europe in 1939 and 40. once you begin to see that that one goal of expansion clashed with their other goal of racial purification they begin to think in a different term. they did not plan in that term but the word in the concept was out in the open. from 39 to 41 as the victories in the east increased they concentrated the population forcibly with the objective of expelling it later to some destination. maybe an island off the coast
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of africa. maybe siberia. they concentrated on these things meanwhile what they did and this was the get a map. it's how they concentrated people in various areas. now what happened when they decided to invade the soviet union in the summer of 19413 things come together. the nazis have long proclaimed motive to kill the jews. they're always out to defeat us. the cover of war as expand into a territory where there are a large number of jews and no foreign reporters to report
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what is happening. and they recognize that they have the means motive, opportunity. for the last two years they had been capable of killing the mentally and physically handicapped in their own mental institutions with carbon my neck said gas. at the low concentration camp in poland. with the pesticide that they have routinely unhand at the site. in order to fumigate barracks and so forth. it will kill 600 soviet prisoners of war.
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they've a motive and opportunity and multiple means of killing people. this gives you a sense and i'm going to resort to a map again a little later to reinforce this. each of those dots represents a ghetto a place where the germans concentrated the jewish population look of at the density of those dots. this gives you a physical image of how concentrated the population was and this is very important because it unlocks the secret to something. one of the few records that we have of the pleated to pleading to kill the jews of europe. everyone quotes it.
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they sat down with bureaucratic representatives of all kinds of other german institutions and asserted has authority over the process. got their agreement to participate in. he also said something as it has often been quoted that was deeply misleading. he said europe will be cold from west to east in other words they will be killed first from france in the netherlands. and then it would go across the continent. anyone who has studied the holocaust knows it was exactly the opposite of the way it happened. it went from east to west at least on the northern half of the european continent. the million and a half victims of the holocaust who were dead by the end of 1941 so one quarter of the total it was
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occupied by poland. and the parts of the soviet union that were invaded in 1941. the few additional victims in 1941 are mostly german jews who are beat purported -- who were reportedly been taken out of the country. why is this so. this is a last part of my first question. why were they killed. why did the killing start here why was it so intense here. i do not believe as timothy seiter has recently argued that the presence or absence of local governments have anything to do with it. the so-called statelessness. it's true that in most of these regions there were no independent governments there
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was no polish government and the in the occupied part of poland but there were many cases they have puppet governments. not unlike the system that was created in the netherlands. all of these have local administrations they were all thickly staffed with local collaborators. the reason why the killing starts here look at the dots. this is where germany intended to expand. this is where the largest population of jews was this was where the rest of the germans expected the rest of the population to comply or to help with the killing of the jews and this is where the proximity of the fighting remember they are still
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invading the soviet union. there is still a war going on here. unlike in western europe and this is where the fighting activated german paranoia about so-called partisans and then been guerrilla fighters behind their line. they were very few in 1941. in other words is first so intense because the ideological fascination with the region coupled with the density of the jewish population. the and likeliness of local resistance to the killing of the jews and the presence of military activity all combined to suggest the policymakers that the solution and they called it to the long-standing jewish question was to kill the people in their path. and then it was a short step to killing the people behind
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them. they were already an occupation on other parts of europe. i do not think as they have most recently claimed that expectations on the germans part of either victory or defeat have anything to do with the decision the momentum was a rolling by september and october of 1941. those experiments. why are they testing gas on people. they are looking for another method. in the momentary likelihood of losing or winning of the work could be and was used throughout 1941 as an argument to expand the killing. the confidence in defeating the soviet union waxed and
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waned several times. whether he thought he was winning or he thought he was losing the momentum increased to killing the jews who were defined as that. the location of that begins on november 1. he was designated to be the german minister. on deep backgrounds the physical extinction of european was at hand. the conference actually went out on november 29. it was supposed to be held on december 7 i think.
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the attack on pearl harbor struck the germans as a surprise. on the morning of december 6. it didn't occur in early december. it occurred in january. with absolutely no reason to think that the agenda changed in the interval. he knew what he intended to say and do. and the preparations have already been made. so why were they killed. because of the long-standing tradition of hatred activated under political circumstances fermented by a regime that was capable of whipping up the population to participate in it then undertook a war into a
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region where there were hundreds of thousands and a result in the concession of wartime to wipe these people out. when anybody stop this. largely populous. they always have something more important to do. it actually thought in 1933 about resigning. the ambassadors to washington,
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paris london and oslo consulted in the spring of 1933 right after hitler was appointed the other state and a man there who was the ambassador who later became they offered this explanation for why. it has a bad government. they thought the future could look at dark.
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in many of them consulted in the course of 1933. almost all of them for rationalizations for saying we should work within. we should do what we can to make this better. they have a very colorful phrase for this. it becomes a wine. and that was her job. over and over many of the industrials consulted that what was being done to the jews was regrettable the expulsion from positions at university teachers started very early. they saw all of this. it was regrettable but the economic revival the improvement of conditions the
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resurgence of national proceeds all this outweighed what they called the inevitable excesses that come with revolution. one way or another germans found ways of rationalizing. history never repeats itself. people always do. i don't need to tell you how may people in prominent positions set i have more to gain by going with the way these eggs are developing them by resisting them. it was the pattern that helps to explain why so few germans stood up and resisted. europeans outside of germany
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had the repetition of world war i. they believed in the dr. ran of it not interference in the internal affairs of other countries. they feared an influx of refugees. and also a very topical issue. fear of immigration to palestine was very strong. german propaganda had certain appeal because they kept saying all we want is self determination. the right that you've claimed for yourselves before we want to bring other germans back into our country the austrians of course have never been german. and thus this was a kind of idealistic appeal that was made. in the united states a combination of nativism anti-semitism fear of an influx not from germany there
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is only a 560,000 jews. even that proponents were not necessarily convinced that this could not had absorbed half a million people. there were 3.3 million jews in poland. 800,000 jews in romania. they have the desire of the jewish populations and have gone to the league of nations and ask for help in that respect. it actually tried to blackmail the british government. or he said to adopt the policies of the german right.
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so this was a world in which resistance was inflamed my essence that the influx would be even greater than was predicted. the extent of u.s. nativism everybody will recognize the illustrator almost everybody well. this is dr. zeus. in the 1940s when you have is a the logic of the piece meant. its x-ray from 1940. i'm in a how many countries they actually go after they will leave us alone because they will be tired. even more shocking the illustration on the right those reformed children. and it didn't really matter. they have a very distinguished journalism school. it's actually named after a man was an editor of the chicago tribune in a vicious
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opponent of irish immigration to the united states. but the journalism have a class that met in january 1939. these are journalism students they were asking to assemble a list of the ten most significant historical events of 1938. what is not on the list. the burning of the synagogues. the attack on the jews. on the mostly white it was a methodist university in those days. the attack have made almost no
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impression. this is what they were facing. a little less than a course or -- a quarter of that country. after the war began in 1931. this is a nazi propaganda poster. behind the enemy powers is the. it's the american flag in the
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soviet union. the depiction of all these powers were tools of the jewish enemy was a central theme. and what it turned out to be was a theme and an ability to react. if we speak out against the persecution of the jews we look like we are the tools of the jews. if we make it essential to the war effort. we play into nazi propaganda. you may find that argument a little bit strange. i certainly do. at the time i it was extremely powerful. so they could do not very much. about the only thing they could of done was to publicize it more. and to put the public opinion
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on the subject. and this is the reason why they large measure did not. one of the most shocking facts that i reported was that the united states knew about it about eight months earlier than our official declarations show we were informed of it by the polish underground in early november 1943. we got details about what was happening there. we knew the location in the name. we repressed this information and was in relation to this. the desire not to play into nazi propaganda. let me give you one other illustration of them. now at the map shows you the
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words by which they were reported to death camps in europe. in the concentration over there in the upper right is an important fact. what i did in the book and i would like you to do with me now mentally is to stick your finger on that map. draw lineup. and then draw drop a horizontal line to the right. what you have done is isolated the northeast quadrant of the european continent. 90% of the victims of the holocaust died there. three quarters of the victims came from there. now think about what that means. there's a reinforcement of what i said. and this is where the visions of labor the only place they
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have that was great britain. they could not reach from great britain is almost the west. a plane could not go from great britain to auschwitz and return on a single tank of gas without crashing. until we have fought our way up. just northeast of rome. we can fly up plane up from there. it was now not within target range.
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in every single other one of those. it was closed by the time we could do that the ability to bomb and stop this process was not inhibited by lack of knowledge we knew a great deal about what was happening it was inhibited by the fact that it was geographically impossible until late in the war. most of the murder in the holocaust was as compressed in time as it was compressed spatially. 90% in the northeast 75% of the victims were killed they
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were dead by the time the russian army surrendered. 75 percent of the victims were killed while the germans were winning the war. when they stopped winning the war the ability to kill them declined greatly for two reasons. they have virtually killed all of the jews up there where was concentrated in the remaining jews lived in countries that were nominally aligned to nazi germany to cooperate further with the germans would mean that they would have a great deal of explaining to do after the war. they were likely to lose the allies were likely to win they were going to have to explain why they have cooperated. the remaining government
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reneged on its promise to deliver them most of it which is in that area called romania. and refused to deliver them to the nazis. they have it killed killed almost 400,000 jews the bulgarians refused to deliver jews to the germans at all. the french began dragging their feet. and then the number of transports and so forth greatly declined in the willingness to help round up drew --dash mike jews also declined. these are some of the reasons why nobody else was able to see it in the way. let me conclude by saying a few things about the difficult piece of the jews themselves.
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this is probably the most famous image of the holocaust. during the suppression and this is part of a document called the report. almost everybody has seen this photograph. it appears in book after book. i don't think of ever seen anyone say what i'm about to say to you. the most remarkable thing in that photograph is that there is a child in it. this is a photograph taken in the spring of 1943.
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we know from the record how many children were still alive. officially acknowledged. don't buy the administration. fewer than 500. there had been 50,000 of them when they the ghetto was closed. let's go to the next picture. they haven't been rounded up. there is another child under the age of ten on the right. we actually know her name. now what i want to draw your attention to is something something tragic about these pictures. who are these people. who could these children be. who still alive under the age of ten.
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in suffering and starvation and so forth. a few months earlier the have of the jewish administration has pleaded with people give me your children we don't want to give them the people that are working with the factories. give me your children and they have sent off set off all of the children except the children of the jewish administration in the ghetto. except the children of the jewish police force. what children were still alive when it was suppressed. people that were connected
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children to's parents had kept them alive somehow who have probably participated in children it was to go on the transports and die. when i show this picture and i tell them that background story. give any less sympathy for those kids now that you know that. then you have before. >> i hope not. that is the illustration of the conditions that they created among the jews themselves by definition the prevailing mentality was what they called that. every person for himself. they were all banned. in two into expect that they would have cola's and reach a
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consensus on how to do this at the risks to their children because if you chose to cooperate with the germans and play for time. it's ultimately what happened. no one impeded this process is one of the reasons of course is that for the victims of it themselves sitting up against it was impossible. i do say they to say they should have been better. one more thing illustrated by one final illustration. this is of course an image that everyone has in its have a big people loaded up to been sent being sent off to death camps. and it's a boxcar.
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and it was a typical vehicle built in poland. as was from germany itself were often sent in third class passenger cars. what i want to underline for you. it's not apparent from the picture but one of the reasons why the holocaust was so devastating was capable of wiping out two thirds of the jews of europe three quarters of the jews and the nazis in the ever they ever got their hands on. half of them die actually in the 11 months before they german surrender. how can they do this.
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we tend to think that they do this because they can apply all of the massive resources of a modern state the industrialized murder. no, look at that boxcar. almost all of them were used. they were not particularly -- they didn't demand a great deal. the 105,000 jews were killed by a train that went to auschwitz once a week over a period of
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about 15 months. one train a week, 20 boxcars, germans loaded 130,000 boxcars a day. we tend to think of this, we believe massive outcomes must have massive causes. it is a reflex, a mental reflex we have as people. the germans did this, but rolling stock they devoted to this on any given day was infinitesimal. the rolling stock required to kill this number of people is tiny. most of the gas chambers were ramshackle affairs. the first ones that operated in poland were basically built of two vertical stack of wood which stand in between and tar paper on the outside. after a few months these were replaced by poured concrete. all of this was cheap because all the stuffing they put up
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could be paid for, more than paid for out of what they stole from the jews of europe. it was not technically difficult to do this whereas the people of the carbon monoxide camps which captured soviet tank engines. the cyclone that killed people in auschwitz was an industrially produced product that was cheap. the cost of the like one purchased to kill people at auschwitz, in 1942 until the last in the first days of november, works out to one us penny per corpse in 1940 money lose this was an incredibly
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inexpensive number of sources and men from the german war effort. it was massively destructive. what i tried to do, what i tried to do with explain why the jews were killed and anyone could not permit this and many of the myths that have grown up around the holocaust are part of our human need to find some way out of the answers i provided, want to find some mistake somebody made that could have turned this around. i cannot find it, thank you very much.
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[applause] >> i would be happy to answer questions. that dull, was it? >> so you said allied bombers couldn't reach the death camps from england. we did have an ally who was in closer strait and you say you don't find a mistake, allied
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resistance for the existence of the holocaust along with not pushing our eastern ally to take part in strikes. that would seem to be a mistake. >> soviets knew about auschwitz by name and function. and allow suppression of information from the polls. the massacre of the jews, just as infrequently as pope pius xii, they gave one speech in the course of the second world war that had to do with what was happening to jews. on november 7, 1941, when hurtling toward moscow, spoke about programs. the pope in december 1942, a
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christmas sermon, how sad it was people in europe were dying because of their race, didn't engine the word jew. there is a parallel kind of indifference here. when the soviet armies got within reach of auschwitz in the summer of 1944, 160 miles a day, allowing for the fact that soviet use of air power is mostly tactical and used to support infantry advances rather than sending bombers over cities, that would be a moment they could have struck the camp, the equivalent of the kgb new about the camp and so forth but that information did not filter to the troops on the line, to liberate auschwitz. if the united states and britain were willing to pressure the
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soviets, no sign he wouldn't achieve success. he tried to persuade the soviets, to send bombers from britain to receive the warsaw uprising of 1944, not the jewish, the polish population uprising, and land behind soviet lines. he would not be successful in persuading them to prioritize this either even if we wanted to. >> i want to ask are you saying we allowed this to happen? >> i didn't hear this? >> i am asking are you saying we allowed this to happen? >> we allowed this to happen?
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>> the one thing the united states could have done that western countries could have done was let more people in in the 1930s and that would put them out of harm's way, the refusal to let in more refugees wasn't -- was an enabling fact was we were restricted by how much we could succeed at. we couldn't reach the death camps, we could not impede that. there are several groups that could have done something. everyone had something more important to do. why not blow up the railway lines?
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or along the eastern part of the border of poland, north to south. the strategy of the whole army, to conserve strength when the germans were about to lose and then to rebel because that would be the moment they could establish themselves as an independent political force, and from the east. we were not spending any resources on blowing up these railroad lines that might lead to german reprisals. everybody always had an argument for something that was more important to do than to the jews. >> i disagree with many things, i was late.
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the main causes of the holocaust was communism and -- without it -- the fact remains, another reason we had the second world war ii act, horrible conditions and jews where the leaders aim in promoting social justice, in the 19th century and 22 century, hitler was using against them, you don't want the jews here, and the complicity of every
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country, it was communism, the bolshevik revolution took place at the same time as the first world war ended did the. for being very active, always fighting for human rights and we should be proud of that. this was the downfall. in poland, for all of the church, the main reason so many jews died -- >> let me just say -- >> you missed a very important thing. >> if you read the book you will see i covered all of those points. i cannot read to you a 400 page book. >> you can make points.
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>> your points are well taken, i referred to the bolshevik revolution in the beginning, the audience for martin anti-semitism and left out two things, the role of communism is for each european population to collaborate and the role of the catholic church but i couldn't talk about everything. it is in the outline. there is a chapter devoted to the activities or non-activities of the catholic church at half a chapter devoted to the problem of poland. >> if you take 20 minutes. >> i could take 20 minutes on an infinite number of subjects. >> unfortunately that is why the holocaust happened, because germany was using -- >> with all due respect, you write your book, i wrote mine. >> i grew up with that. >> thank you very much, can we
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take the next question please? >> thank you for this. my question, population registries, what is your opinion how the civil registration documents in different countries amplified the future happening, the population registries misused and used to target the population? >> i got to confess i am deaf in one ear so i am not quite getting everything be asked. >> the question was to what extent documents, registrations were used as an instrument to carry out deportation and so forth. population, the demographics. >> less than you would think.
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in the east, in poland, the occupied soviet union the mass of the murders occurred. there are no population registers, they basically said all the jews had to go to the ghetto and if you don't go to the ghetto you will be shot the be a enforcement mechanism for that is jews will denounce them. if they don't go to the ghetto the neighbors will say they should be there the germans will shoot them. when the murders start, what the germans say is you all assembled in the central square of the town and if you don't assemble it is the same penalty, people will finger you, point you out and you will be shot. in most of europe, great numbers of shootings are taking place. there is no registration process. there is none of that. one of the tragedies of the murder process from the ghettos of poland, the germans always dedicate the dirty worth --
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dirty work to the people of the ghettos themselves. when they go to the head of the ghetto administration in warsaw and say starting tomorrow, 6000 people every day at the assembly point, he will take reprisals or we will pick them ourselves. the jewish administrators said better if we do it then they do it because we will be more merciful and gentlemen find ways to get around and save the people who are more worthwhile than other people so they delegate the process. some of these people survived and the person who did this process lived in israel for many years after the war gave interviews and said was i right? was i wrong? i asked the rabbis, it is not okay to do that but that is what
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they were told. this was the impossible position in which they put people. in germany and the netherlands, the written record of who is a jew and who is not a jew is the best. they don't rely on census data. they don't. the ss administration in berlin requires registration files, the national assembly of german jews because they think that file is easier to handle than the huge census records so they basically take these files and send to the jewish council in berlin, the leading jewish administration, for the next deportation we want men between the ages of 55, and 70. you pick them. or send us all the registration forms of all the men between 55 and 70 and we will pick them.
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that is the way deportations from germany work. in the netherlands it is delegated to the local jewish administration, they do the. remember the children? members of the administration are often people with little children and they are placed in this position, are they going to comply with the germans and give them the names? are they going to run the risk the germans will come in and take them all? that is the way they experience this impossible choice. census data, registration data turns out to be a great deal less important in this process than that kind of pressure put on people. i can take one more. one more. >> i originally asked what you meant by being in an impossible
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situation, expounded on that just now so basically the people were divided among themselves, anyone who spoke up with either killed or made to suffer and people -- i wonder too many times, if people didn't act because they didn't fully comprehend the horrors that were happening. the whole event is beyond imagining, beyond what any decent person could imagine. >> absolutely. at first they couldn't comprehend because it was unprecedented. what they heard was rumors, they did trust them. after the flow of information
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thickens, they desperately find ways of denying it. how can you face it? there's a quotation by a jew in occupied poland who was a part of the jewish police force and went into the underground, the resistance, left behind a diary. one passage i found powerful, talks about this little town, the rumors come in, the town has been totally liquidated, all the people have been killed. he gives a full paragraph description of how this message is received. how can human beings do that? by the last, there must be an explanation, the right happened to them but it can't happen to us.
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there on the other side of the border between the general government and the occupied soviet union, maybe it was that. maybe it resisted. it goes to a process that somehow denies it can happen and this is another part of the enormous tragedy of the situation and requirements for us of empathy, with what these people were being put through, to imagine that. leo back, the rabbi in berlin, who became religious leader, the ghetto in occupied czech republic. by mid 44, he knew what was happening to the people who were put on the trains when shot to auschwitz and he decided not to tell the other people in the
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ghetto. his explanation after the war was it would have been much better to live with the certain knowledge of death than to live with the possibility that you would survive. that is somebody who understood, he knew it was better they don't know. thank you all very much. [applause] >> i have a couple of announcements before you leave this evening, my name is jennifer schmidt at general manager of the museum. thank peter hayes for joining us in delivering a very good program, very lightning as i'm sure you agree. those who joined us this evening online. at the start of this evening
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tonight at conversation is the first event in a programming series entitled the power of memory to shape our future, this explores the power of collaborative understanding of the holocaust and how we can use it to create a better world. to learn more about our public programs with digital content please visit the museum event calendar at use this and follow us on social media on facebook and twitter channels. you can purchase peter's incredible book explaining the holocaust as you exit this evening, peter will be available to sign copies outside the theater. thanks for coming and have a wonderful evening. [applause] [inaudible
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conversations] >> this weekend c-span's cities tour with comcast cable partners with the literary life and history of fresno, california, noon eastern on booktv. tim hernandez with all they call you about the 1948 plane crash in california that killed 32 people. >> with a plane crash happened in 1948 the news reports went across the country, a great sort of rebellious folk icon that he is, he heard the news report, he says in his poem goodbye rosa lida.
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you won't have a name, all they call you will be the poor t. >> than the author of carbon sun, planting the soil, when he recounts his personal story about childhood, race and identity in california's central valley. >> when immigrants first came this was the only entry point in america and economy and the community. >> sunday at 2:00 on american history tv, the history of farming and agriculture in fresno from fresno county parma -- farm bureau. >> we have a mediterranean climate, five regions throughout the world and the only ones in the united states. >> we visit the historic carney mentioned museum and the history of martin theodore kearney, an early contributor to the development of agriculture in
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fresno and established the california raisin growers. >> a co-op to structure the pricing. >> watch c-span's cities tour fresno california at noon eastern on c-span2's booktv and sunday afternoon at 2:00 on american history tv on c-span3 working with cable affiliate and visiting cities across the country. >> for welcoming our founder, ishmael reed, to the stage, i want to say a few words about nick terrorist who received the american book award this year for tomorrow's battlefield, us proxy wars and secret ops in africa. nick was


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